Monday, July 4, 2011

Edna Moody

Edna Moody Stephens and James Roland Stephens

Edna Moody is my aunt. She is my mother's oldest sister. I have only met her a few times and cannot even say that I knew her. She died in 1999, and a few years later I received a box with her photographs and a few other things.

For the past few days, maybe a week I've been looking at those pictures, trying to figure out who her family members were, and organizing them in our Stark/Shoemaker family tree which you can get to by going to the family website Stark/Shoemaker family website and then clicking on "trees" at the top.

I know all of Edna's brothers and sisters better than I know her. She moved to Alaska soon after she and James Roland Stephens were married, so my mother never took me to her house. Not once.

As a child, I do not have any memories of her. She came to my parents 50th Anniversary in the Redwoods in 1985, and she came to many Moody family reunions, but there were always so many people there that I never talked to her more than to say hello. I have found some pictures of her being at a Moody family reunion at Sequoia Park when I was there, but I was probably running through the forest with my cousins.

I Identify My Dapper Friend's Handwriting

From This Picture I Got His Handwriting
   Trying to explain how you figured out a complex identification, is like trying to explain an advanced algebra problem to fifth graders. You know it can be done, but "How can I break it down into the parts clear enough, and 'Will they sit still and listen while I explain it?" Is the problem I'm having trying to explain how I figured out who this dapper guy is. There was a long process.......   and then suddenly, the answer appeared, and I knew I was right.

That Handwriting Matched This Handwriting From The Next Picture
        It's easy to see now, and I can hardly believe I had a problem from the beginning. It's kind of like Columbus trying to claim twenty years after his first discovery of America, that he still should receive his ten percent of all the revenue earned from the Americas. No one cared at that point. Columbus was out of favor, so they didn't care about all of his problems trying to cross the "Ocean Sea," and it's even worse for Columbus today. The Indians blame all of their problems on him as if he caused them himself. No one really cares about Columbus except a few of us who still think that God guided him, and it may have been another hundred and fifty years before the Portuguese crawled around the coast of Africa, India, and Melanesia. Even then they would only have been to China, and still would not have discovered America.
1. The writing above is on the back of this.

   The Stephens family pictures are like that to me. I have this deep down feeling that they are important because they represent a family of real people, and if I don't take the time to figure out who they are and who the family is, the information will be lost and may never be  recovered.

   Because I have taught eighth graders since 1967, I have a lot of experience  identifying handwriting. Eighth graders tend to try to cheat, so I often compare handwriting samples. I found this picture on the right  with the same handwriting as the one with the two brothers, so I knew that the writer was the same..... But a new problem surfaced. The writer didn't get the subject right. This guy is not one of the two brothers who died before 1918!

Not Twins - two years apart
   Look for yourself. My writer misidentified the picture above. He must have written the names on them a long time after he got the pictures. Neither of these soldiers is the same man as the one on the above right, so who is this one?

  While I was studying these pictures I was also placing the people in a family tree and searching for a census with all of them in the same family.  I found the 1901 Wales census that had all the names that matched who I've discovered so far, except for one name. This census said James "L" Stephens instead of James "A" Stephens, so I threw it out two or three times. I looked at the actual census as the census taker wrote it, and it was an "L." Finally, I have decided that the census taker just made a mistake, and didn't listen good enough. Or my writer could have mistakenly written an "A" for the "L" on the picture. I'm sure this census is the right Stephens family! 

2. Frank Stephens, Doris's Twin, same as picture above.
   This is the census that also shows that the twins were  Frank and Doris, who I earlier said were both girls. So one of the soldiers was a twin, and the other was Doris. And that's why my Dapper Friend confused them also. He knew he had a soldier who was a twin, so he assumed that they were both males. (I just rechecked and sure enough, Frank is listed as "son," and Doris is listed as "daughter.")

   Back to the pictures. I studied some more of them and this next one says, "Frank Stephens" on the back with the same handwriting as my mysterious dapper gentleman, who I now know has done all this writing on these pictures. And Frank Stephens matches with the 1901 Wales census. He is the one in the picture above on the right who my writer thought was one of the twin "brothers." That means that Frank is also the uncle of the writer in the WWII picture at the top of this page. I compared these two pictures very carefully. I numbered them 1 and 2, so we can see that they are the same man, not one of the other soldiers.

  It is kind of ironic that I'm trying to tell you all about these English Soldiers on the Fourth of July, the day we celebrate breaking away from England. All of these brothers are English, but I can't find any of them on the 1911 census in Wales.

   What I did find was  a ship record of a James A Stephens in 1910,  and right above his name was Roland Stephens, his father, age 41, just like the census. The record even named "James A" as "son," age 19. ..... So that's why I can't find them on the 1911 census in Wales. They immigrated to the United States, and they came on the ship Mauretania.. At least James A Stephens and his son Roland came to America in 1910, maybe they went back, because the older boys went into the English service.

   I'm getting closer and closer to identifying my mysterious Dapper Friend who was a WWII soldier. At least I know his uncles were soldiers in England.

Phil, Dad, Marge, Doris who is Twin of Frank: All Siblings
   At first I thought this next picture would pull it together for me, but it added new mysteries. On the back in my Dapper Friend's handwriting is the following: "Phil, Marge, Dad, Doris." So there is Doris, who we see on the 1901 census, but now we have a "Marge" and a "Phil" who we haven't seen before, not on a census, nor in a picture, yet.

   It looks like, Doris and "Dad" are brother and sister, so I began to theorize that Phil and Marge may also be two missing siblings..... Dad is the Dapper guy's father, James A Stephens.

A Mystery Revealed

   I have been working intensely on this box of Stephens pictures for almost a month now and had been looking at some of them for more than ten years but couldn't figure out who these two guys were. I still don't know who the one on the left is, but I have some theories. I have identified the dapper gentleman on the right who looks like he might be a movie star in a 1940's film. In fact, I thought that might be what this picture was for a while, a fan photo. It is a large photo, and very sharp, a studio photograph, I guess.

   I'll try to show you how I figured it out, since he didn't help me at all with his writing on the back of his pictures.  That's why I'm writing this, by the way, so you might realize you need to identify your pictures better. (Me too, my sister keeps telling me to write the names of the children, so she can review the genealogy and see who they are.) Someone who reads this might still have some paper pictures in a drawer somewhere. Don't think that anyone will know who the people are if you don't write their names clearly on the back.

   And internet pictures....  they're even worse. I've gotten email pictures that say, "This is me and so and so, at the beach." Well... that's nice,  but...... I've got 36 grandchildren and ten great grandchildren in all stages of development, and a picture today of you might look like your aunt, or cousin, or mother from ten years ago.  For example, look at these two pictures on the right. One is my daughter Suzy and the other is her daughter Whitney, but they look an awful lot alike. Sometimes I can tell from the coloring of the picture which is older, but these pictures are both pretty good, in fact I might guess that the picture on the left is older, but it isn't. Suzy is the mother, and she is on the right.

   Sometimes I can't find my keys from ten minutes ago, let alone identify a picture I copied from your email or Facebook page two weeks ago. There are so many pictures on my computers, that I sometimes can't find them immediately after I scan them. Sometimes my scanner is set to save a picture on a different disk than I thought it was, and it gets lost immediately, so I have to use the search system to find it, and even Macintosh computers take time, especially when you have ten hard drives...... I'll get back to this, but it's getting too late now, and I've got some stuff I need to do tomorrow.....